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Hackensack Meridian Health and Carrier Clinic finalize merger

NJBIZ - 1/9/2019

Hackensack Meridian Health, the state’s largest health network, and Carrier Clinic, a psychiatric and addiction treatment center, officially joined forces on Thursday.Hackensack Meridian Health, the state’s largest health network, and Carrier Clinic, a psychiatric and addiction treatment center, officially joined forces on Thursday.

At Carrier’s facility in Belle Mead, company executives and state health officials unveiled details of the merger including plans for new addiction centers, the state’s first behavioral health urgent care centers and a $25 million investment in facilities.

Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health said: “We’re making history today. We will rewrite the chapter on how behavioral health care services will be delivered in New Jersey and beyond. This partnership will make both organizations stronger.”

Garrett added that the behavioral health system is fragmented and not coordinated. “There’s not great access to behavioral health care services particularly on an outpatient basis and the costs are skyrocketing. With this partnership we will address these issues.”

He also announced the formation of a behavioral health oversight board that will focus on behavioral health as a priority area for Hackensack Meridian and for Carrier Clinic.

A care transformation service will also be created with the goal of coordinating care more effectively and to integrate behavioral health care services into Hackensack Meridian’s system, Garrett said.

“Now these services act in insolation, we want to make sure they’re coordinated so health care becomes part of our system like cancer care or cardiac care.”Commenting on the impact of the merger, New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said, “This is a partnership worth celebrating we will see not only the expansion of substance abuse and mental health treatment access in the state, we will see enhanced integration and coordination of that care for patients. This could not be a better model for meeting their needs.”

According to state health officials, almost half the increase in emergency room visits in New Jersey were related to patients’ behavioral health issues and an opioid epidemic that is on target to claim 3,000 lives this year, up from 2,200 lives in 2016.

Donald Parker, President of Carrier Clinic stated, “This plan will create exceptional, comprehensive care at a time of great need for expanded, enhanced, and innovative behavioral health services.’’

The Hackensack Meridian Healthand Carrier Clinic merger is expected to provide greater access and choice to New Jersey residents who often seek treatment out of state, away from their family and support network.

Edison-based Hackensack Meridian Health has 17 hospitals and more than 500 patient care locations and physician offices in eight counties.

Hackensack Meridian Health network is adding 37 inpatient psychiatric beds to its 150-bed capacity and maintains psychiatric outpatient services. Additionally, the network started two new psychiatry residency programs this month with 10 physicians kicking off the four-year program. A child psychiatry fellowship program is slated to start in 2020. There will also be a new child adolescent psychiatry fellowship created.

Carrier Clinic provides short-term, acute care hospitalization for psychiatric illness and substance abuse for adolescents 12-18, and treatment for adults 18 and older. Carrier Clinic’s campus includes a licensed 297-bed capacity hospital; the Blake Recovery Center, a licensed 40-bed inpatient and outpatient detox and recovery facility.

With the opening this year of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, patients will have access to experts in psychiatry, behavioral health, integrative medicine and addiction treatment who are on the faculty of the medical school.

The agreement follows months of due diligence and a thorough review of clinical, regulatory, service, and financial issues. The agreement was approved by the state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission. Copyright 2019 BridgeTower Media. All Rights Reserved.

CREDIT: Anthony Vecchione